I am in the market for a pair of floorstanding speakers in the $2000-$2500 range and, after quite a bit of Internet research, I have narrowed my choices down to Aperion's Verus Grand Tower and KEF's R500. I have a large room (22' x 22', with a vaulted ceiling) and intend to drive them with an integrated amp in the 120-160W range. My top considerations are currently Cambridge Audio's new Azur 851A and NAD's C 390DD. Any plans to review either of these amps in the near future?
I was initially sold on the Aperions based on many top reviews, most namely GoodSound!'s, and their no-hassle return policy. However, the latest review of the KEFs in SoundStage! Hi-Fi has me strongly considering them. I prefer the looks of the KEFs and was raised on my father's 104/2s, a sound I loved. Unfortunately, there are no KEF dealers in my state and their direct-buy return policy would cost me shipping both ways, plus a 15% restocking fee if I decide not to keep them. So I'm hoping you can shed some light on the sound-quality differences I might find between the two speakers. Are the KEFs worth the extra $800? I primarily listen to rock and some classic jazz.
Thanks for your help!
You've narrowed your search down to two excellent speakers, which have been reviewed by two of our most experienced reviewers, with Jeff Fritz having written on the Aperions, and Doug Schneider on the KEFs. Jeff's Music Vault is usually occupied by state-of-the-art speakers, and Doug's reference Revel Salon2s were considered state-of-the-art performers when they were released a few years ago.
Your large room and fondness for rock possibly complicates your decision, as 120-160W will likely be necessary to fill your room with loud, distortion-free music. (Colin Smith currently has the C 390DD in for review, but we don't have Cambridge's 851A, at least not yet.) Both speakers look to play clean and loud, which certainly counts in your favor, but I suspect the Aperions, with their bigger bass drivers and lower-specified bass response, will give you a slightly deeper and more robust bottom-end. I don't think the difference will be profound, however.
What an additional $800 gets you in the R500 is a trickle-down pedigree from KEF's $30,000/pair Blade loudspeaker. I recently heard the Blade at an audio show, and it's a deeply impressive design, with superlative imaging capabilities thanks in large part to its Uni-Q coaxial driver. Doug does not often wax poetic about a piece of audio equipment, nor is he prone to being casually hyperbolic, so his comparing the $2600 KEF R500s to his almost ten-times more expensive Revel Salon2 reference speakers is noteworthy to say the least.
In light of your affinity for the R500's appearance and house sound, per your growing up with the 104/2s, I would suggest moving for the KEFs, which, as Doug says, are "great sounding speaker[s] by any measure." Odds are you will be highly satisfied with them. If the worry of not liking them is too great, however, why not exercise Aperion's no-risk guarantee, with shipping charges being covered both ways? If you keep them, you save $800, and if not, you won't spend a dime. Either way, you're assuredly getting a terrific pair of loudspeakers. . . . Hans Wetzel